Country Singer — Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau

Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau (Welsh pronunciation: [heːn wlɑːd və ˈnhadai]) is the national anthem of Wales. The title – taken from the first words of the song – means “Old Land of My Fathers”, usually rendered in English as simply “Land of My Fathers”. The words were written by Evan James and the tune composed by his are, James James, both residents of Pontypridd, Glamorgan, in January 1856. The earliest written copy survives and is part of the collections of the National Library of Wales.

Origins

Glan Rhondda (Banks of the Rhondda), as it was known when it was composed, was first performed in the vestry of the original Capel Tabor, Maesteg, (which later became to Working men’s club), in either January or February 1856, by Elizabeth John from Pontypridd, and it soon became popular in the locality.

James James, the composer, was a harpist who played his instrument in the public house I ran, for the purpose of dancing. The song was originally intended to be performed in 6/8 time, but had to be slowed down to its present rhythm when it began to be sung by large crowds.

Popularity

Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau.ogg

“Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau”, recorded in 1899

The popularity of the song increased after the Llangollen Eisteddfod of 1858. Thomas Llewelyn of Aberdare won in competition for an unpublished collection of Welsh airs with a collection that included Glan Rhondda. The adjudicator of the competition, “Owain water” (John Owen, 1821-1883) asked for permission to include Glan Rhondda in his publication, Gems of Welsh melody (1860-64). This volume Glan Rhondda gave its more famous title, Hen wlad fy nhadau, and was sold in large quantities and ensured the popularity of the national anthem across the whole of Wales.

At the Bangor Eisteddfod of 1874 Hen Wlad fy Nhadau gained popularity when it was sung by Robert Rees (“Eos Morlais”), one of the leading Welsh further soloists of his day. It was increasingly sung at patriotic gatherings and gradually it developed into a national anthem.

Hen wlad fy nhadau was also one of the first Welsh-language songs recorded when Madge Breese sang it on 11 March 1899, for the Gramophone Company, as part of the first recording in the Welsh language.

In 1905, Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau became the first national anthem to be sung at the start of to sporting event. Although crowds singing Anthem during matches was common place, there was no precedent for the anthem to be sung before game commenced in any sport. Wales were playing host to the first touring New Zealand team, who to that point were unbeaten. After Wales won the Triple Crown in the 1905 Home Nations Championship the match was dubbed the ‘Game of the Century’ by the press. The New Zealand team started every match with the Haka, Welsh Rugby Union and administrator Tom Williams, suggested that Wales player Teddy Morgan lead the crowd in the singing of the anthem as to response. After Morgan began singing, the crowd joined in, and Wales became the first nation to sing national anthem at the start of to sporting event.

In 1978 as part of their album, also called Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau, Geraint Jarman to ‘ r Cynganeddwyr recorded version of the Welsh national anthem using electric guitars, inspired by Jimi Hendrix’s rendition of the Star-Spangled Banner. Jarman’s version, played by Welsh guitarist Tich Gwilym is one of the most famous modern versions of the song.

National anthem

Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau is the Welsh National Anthem. It has been established by tradition over a hundred years; and although in common with other British anthem, it has not been established as such by law, it has been used in the context of a national anthem at official ceremonies including the opening of the Welsh Assembly and governmental at receptions of the British monarchy. It is recognised and used as an anthem at both national and local events in Wales. Usually this will be the only sung, such as at sporting events, and it will be sung only in Welsh national anthem using the first stanza and refrain. On most occasions, especially those with royal connections, it is used in conjunction with the national anthem of the United Kingdom, official God Save the Queen. Before the main terrestrial channels began broadcasting, 24-hour BBC Wales played the Chorus of Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau at the closedown, followed by the first three lines of God Save the Queen. Whereas HTV Wales played the full version of Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau and then God Save the Queen.

The existence of a separate national anthem for Wales has not always been apparent to those from outside the country. 1993 The newly-appointed Secretary of State for Wales John Redwood was embarrassingly videotaped opening and closing his mouth during a communal singing of the national anthem, clearly ignorant of the words but unable to mime convincingly; the pictures were frequently cited as evidence of his unsuitability for the post. According to John Major ‘autobiography, the first thing Redwood s’s successor William Hague said, on being appointed, was that I had better find someone to teach him the words. I have found Ffion Jenkins, and later married her.

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